A superb semi-final performance from the Netherlands denied Great Britain reaching their first Olympic final since 1988 as they defeated the home nation 9-2 at the Riverbank Arena tonight.
Hat-tricks from Billy Bakker and Roderick Weusthof, plus goals from Mink van der Weedan, Tuen de Nooijer and Dutch captain Floris Evers capped a fantastic display from the world’s number three side. Ashley Jackson and Rob Moore scored Great Britain’s goals.
Great Britain now play Australia in the Bronze Medal match on Saturday afternoon, while the Netherlands are rewarded with a final contest against their close rivals Germany.
Commenting on the game, Great Britain Head Coach Jason Lee said, “The Netherlands made the pitch very big for us. We had lots of one v one battles early on and we lost a lot of them. I think we were a little bit slack for a few of the goals but when it got to 4-1 our intention was to try and get back into the game so we kept on trying to attack and that’s what opened us up. We probably got reckless far too early and that’s why the result went away. The upsetting thing is we completely lost our game halfway through the second half and the match was gone.
“I think at 3-1 we had a chance, at 4-1 we still had a chance but we just let a couple of sloppy goals in because we were trying to get back into the game. There’s no other way. We could have just shut it down, kept it at three or four one and it would have been a less embarrassing result but it wouldn’t have been what we said we were going to be about. Lots of goals get scored in international hockey. We didn’t perform how we aimed to perform but we did aim to win and that’s why we got so exposed.”
“Seven years ago we were ranked 11th in the world and we had ambitions to progress up the medal table. To my knowledge, I think the Netherlands have only missed one major semi-final in the last 30 years and this is only our third semi-final in that time. It [the semi-final] had a lot of risk associated with it. I had said before we could finish first or ninth because we were willing to take that risk.”
The opening minutes of the game provided half chances for both sides. The Netherlands had their first chance at goal when East Grinstead’s Iain Lewers found himself out-numbered with two Dutch players in the circle, but a great tackle from Wimbledon’s Ben Hawes saw the danger cleared.
Hawes then took the ball up the other end and made a darting run into the circle, but his shot in the end was an easy save for Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann.
The deadlock was broken after nine minutes when RobbertKemperman found Surbiton forward Matt Daly’s foot in the circle to win his side their first penalty corner. The shot from Roderick Weusthof was a sign of things to come as the ball went at a blistering pace past Cannock’s James Fair and East Grinstead’s Barry Middleton on the line into the top right hand corner.
Great Britain tried to push forward, but rarely found themselves in the attacking third thanks to some tireless pressing from the Netherlands who were playing the ball around with ease. After 15 minutes the Netherlands won their second penalty corner and scored their second goal. The initial ball was mis-trapped, but the Dutch players worked the ball around and found Weusthof in the circle who had space and time to line his shot up and watch it go through the legs of an exposed Fair in goal.
Having come back from 3-0 down against Australia to draw 3-3 earlier in the week, Great Britain had the belief they could fight back. Old Loughtonain’s Harry Martin put the ball onto a Dutch foot in the circle to earn his side their first penalty corner of the game, which East Grinstead’s Ashley Jackson fired home past the right foot of Stockmann to make it 2-1. The goal spurred Great Britain on and Martin, again in the thick of it, found Daly who played a great ball into Middleton in the circle, but his shot went over Stockmann’s crossbar.
The Great Britain comeback was short-lived and with 14 minutes to go in the first half the Netherlands started an unanswered seven goal ambush on the home-side. Two goals before half time took the score-line to 4-1; a penalty corner from Mink van der Weerden and then a great set play finished by Billy Bakker ensured the Dutch went into the break with a three goal cushion.
As Lee highlighted after the game, his side would approach every match at this tournament with an attacking mentality. It was clear from the start of the second half that Great Britain were valiantly sticking to their game-plan as they came out and won a penalty corner in the opening minute. Middleton played the ball into Daly who found a foot and although the Dutch appealed the video referral team were unable to offer clear guidance so the penalty corner stood. Jackson lined up again, but the Dutch ran the ball down well and cleared the danger.
Try as they might, Great Britain struggled to clear their defences and the Netherlands were happy to wait and pick off lose balls which they pounced on all night with devastating effect. From the 44th to the 51st minute they unpicked Great Britain four times to take away any chance of a great British comeback. Bakker finished calmly to score his second of the game thanks to some good work from Teun de Nooijer off the backline. De Nooijer then took his turn in the limelight as he found the target and put his side 6-1 up. Bob de Voogd this time with the initial shot, which Fair attempted to save, but the ball edged past him and de Nooijer pushed it over the line.
There were still three more Dutch goals to come in what was turning into a night to forget for Great Britain. The Netherlands Captain Floris Evers was the next name on the score sheet taking the ball past Loughborough Students’ Richard Smith and beating Fair with some great skills to finish the move. If Great Britain were having a night to forget, Bakker was having one to remember as he hit the target for the third time to make it 8-1. After taking a self-pass outside the circle he beat several defenders before pulling the ball back from the line and hitting an incredible reverse stick shot from the tightest of angles past Fair.
With 11 minutes to go, the Dutch scored their ninth and final goal of the night from a penalty corner. This time it was Weusthof’s turn to score a hat-trick for the Netherlands as he fired home into the top right hand corner of the goal.
With luck not on the side of the home nation, Jackson did score from a Great Britain penalty corner in the final minutes, but the whistle had already gone for a Dutch player breaking the line. The corner was re-taken and this time Jackson’s effort was well saved by Stockmann.
Great Britain finally pulled one back through Surbiton’s Rob Moore who slid in to nudge the ball home from Glenn Kirkham’s pass along the backline. The celebrations from the crowd showed their support and belief in the Great Britain men, but understandably the players’ reactions were muted. The final score stood at 9-2.
Following the match, a disappointed Great Britain Captain Barry Middleton said, “Sorry, that wasn’t really us. It’s hard to explain what happened. Credit to the Dutch, they played a good game. They just tackled, shot and ran around better than us. You don’t have many games where a team does every aspect better than you. We were definitely not where we wanted to be or where we could have been and that’s the disappointing thing. We need to look at it and find out what went wrong and make it right for Saturday.”
Great Britain will play Australia for the Bronze Medal at the Riverbank Arena on Saturday 11 August (15.30).
Meanwhile, Great Britain women will be aiming to finish the hockey competition on a high when they contest the Bronze Medal match against New Zealand at the Riverbank Arena tomorrow afternoon (15.30).
NETHERLANDS 9-2 (HT:4-1) GREAT BRITAIN
Netherlands Goal Scorers: Roderick Weusthof 9’ 15’ 60’ (PC) (F) (PC), Mink van der Weerdan 22’ (PC), Billy Bakker 33’ 44’ 51’ (F) (F) (F), Tuen de Nooijer 47’ (F), Floris Evers 48’ (F)
Great Britain Goal Scorers: Ashley Jackson 18’ (PC), Rob Moore 65’ (F)
Great Britain Hockey Press Release